how do I save my mums?

estheramgr(z8 GA)August 4, 2005

I never thought I'd be posting about how to coddle crysanthemums, but here goes...

Caterpillars (#%$**!) have eaten all my mums down to the stalk. It first happened back in the spring, seemingly overnight. I thought it was over, but I think something's still nibbling them. (Whatever it is, I can't see it with my naked eye) My determined little plants are trying to leaf back out, but it's slow going. How can I save them, and will they even have enough time to recover enough to flower in the fall?

I have a toddler, so strong strong pesticides are out. If anybody knows anything a little more selective that will stop this carnage, let me know!

I was picturing a beautiful bed of bushy white and pink garden mums come fall, but it looks like all I'll have are mangled stems :(

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Kathy Bochonko

If you can't see them what makes you think it is caterpillars?

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 10:02PM
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You might try to trim 2"-3" off of them and water every morning for a few days after trimming. Later, apply a slow/time release fertilizer when it cools a bit but, not til temps are in the 60's at night.
Mums prefer cooler weather than we are having right now. I just gave mine their last cut for the year but, I notice they are getting a bit spindly from the heat(up north the rule is pinch off buds til July 4th and I do til August 1st in Marietta). I have never had any insect problems with them, I always thought bugs hated them.
Some of those fancy colored Mums can't handle heat very well at all so I stick with white.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2005 at 10:09PM
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My mums rotted from all of the rains. I lost all of them.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2005 at 9:43PM
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estheramgr(z8 GA)

I know these can handle heat and humidity because I got them from my mom in south Louisiana. Hers are huge and bushy and have to be cut back several times in summer with a weed whacker. Mine, by contrast, make me want to cry!

Kathy, you asked how I know it's caterpillars. I think that because the bite pattern looks like caterpillars. Maybe its something else voracious and sneaky that bites in chompy little semicircles. Who knows? Sigh.

    Bookmark   August 10, 2005 at 12:52PM
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Yeah, I had some mums once. Real nice ones, too -- that is until the caterpillars got ahold of them. It cannot be understated how much I loathe the vicious little beasts -- it is my firm belief that if the Buddhists are correct and all life is reincarnated, then caterpillars are inhabited by the souls of all the serial pedophiles, cannibals, and guys who try to talk to you while you're taking a piss at a football game. Words cannot express the hatred I felt in my heart each morning as I stepped out into my backyard only to find my precious chrysanthemums decimated by the filthy mandrils of these squirming Hellspawn.

I still wake up in a cold sweat at night thinking about them. The dream goes the same way each time: My daughter calls home and announces that she's found "the one" and that she'll be bringing him home for Spring Break to meet us. My wife and I spend all day preparing the house in anticipation of this jovial event. Around 6:00, we hear the happy couple walking up to the front door. The knob turns, and the door slowly opens. Standing there is my daughter, but towering over her is an eight-foot-tall, slimy, stinking, revolting caterpillar. My wife faints, and I can only stand in horrid disbelief as the disgusting mutant turns toward my little girl and regurgitates a foul mixture of digested leaves, pollen, and stomach acids all over her face. It is then that I wake up and realize that it's all a dream, but my relief is short-lived; I know the little bastards are still out there, munching away on my precious mums, all the while laughing at my feeble attempts to thwart them, my crushed reaction as I step outside in the morning to catch that first glimpse of their work, and probably my sexual performance as well.

But I taught them a lesson before it was all said and done. One morning last April I came outside to catch the segmented beasts in action, and indeed the sweet taste of my mums was the last sensation they felt before they met their match in my 12-guage shotgun. The garden was decimated -- what was once a vibrant botanical utopia now resembled a scene out of the last 15 minutes of a Bruckheimer film. But I'd be a fool to think that that was the last I'll be seeing of these demonic little vermin. And I know they're out there plotting, waiting for me to let my guard down so they can catch their next meal. But I'll be ready. And so will an arsenal so vast that it would compensate for an entire metropolis's worth of small penises.

    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 1:53AM
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Mine are dying too! I don't mean to hijack the thread, but my beautiful mums were great for 2 weeks or so and now all the flowers are turning brown from the center of the flower out. Is that from all the rain we've had the last couple weeks? The leaves seem to be fine.

Can anything save them?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2005 at 8:10AM
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WestEnder(z7 Atlanta GA)

I don't know what brought you to the Georgia forum to discuss caterpillars, but your post was certainly good for a laugh! Thanks a lot.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 11:44AM
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efam(z7b GA)

I agree...a little extreme, but funny.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 10:36AM
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estheramgr(z8 GA)

NY, LOL! And feeling a little vicarious vindication from your shotgun rampage. If only I didn't have a little one running around playing...

Every time I look at my bedraggled front bed, I get a twitch.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2005 at 2:28PM
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I think NYgardenguy needs to write horror stories like Steven King. You may want to watch what you eat before bed if you dream like that often. Too funny!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 8:21AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Well, I have tons of swallowtails, red admirals, and hummingbird clearwings which have to eat something as babies.
They add as much to the yard as the flowers do.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 1:48PM
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gretchenmi(Zone 5)

Hysterical NYgardenguy!!!As a "King" fan I can appreciate it....But did we ever find a "solution" for our beloved mums?....I have the same problem.....Thanks again

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 8:01AM
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squirrellypete(z7b AL)

lmao NY! Well, I don't have any little ones running around and a nice shiny shot gun that doesn't get used as often as it should so I may give your method a try. Think it'll work for Japanese Beetles, in-laws and mosquitos?? Kinda' gives skeet shooting a whole new meaning lol.


    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 10:44AM
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An update from the person who started this whole thing. Strangest thing. This year nothing has eaten my mums. Nothing. Not a single bite. They are bushy and happy. I'm looking forward to seeing them flower, since last year the caterpillars stole my fun.

But something is gnawing big trails in my newly transplanted hollyhocks.

I think whatever eats my garden prefers new transplants. It's almost like if the plants survive the first year they've paid their dues and the critters leave them alone.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2006 at 11:20AM
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gretchenmi(Zone 5)

LUCKY YOU!......still trying to ward them off....Help....

    Bookmark   July 11, 2006 at 8:03AM
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I am wondering about the chewing on the Crysanthemums too.
In 40 years of gardening, I have never had anything chew my
Mums. I was thinking perhaps it might be something like a rabbit or gopher. The pesticide Pyrethrum is made from Crysanthemums, so I would think insects would steer clear of them.....Hmmm. I have a native Hibiscus that I keep hidden behind some other plants(ugly foliage) especially for the catepillars to chew, They love it and leave other plants alone mostly. I enjoy the Swallowtails and they enjoy the Hibiscus

    Bookmark   October 31, 2007 at 7:38AM
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Well, the disaster that I feared during the summer was averted. I now have beautiful blooming mums. A little droopy from the drought, but blooming away. I guess what didn't kill them made them stronger. Between the nibbling and the drought, I didn't have to cut them back at all this year.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2007 at 8:24PM
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